NF 445 – Surprise!
After some errands, I moved to a nice site on the western side of the NF 445 loop near Bernalillo, New Mexico. I’d been there for a couple of days when an equally nice County Sheriff stopped by in the morning to inform me that this whole loop is a day use area only! My rig’s presence had been “reported”, and the officer’s main concern was that the Federal rangers might cruise through and cite me (with a big fine). Oops! She mentioned that Bernalillo had a city-run camp in town, and I, having postponed my further travel planning until mid-week, had nowhere else to go locally that I knew of. Bottom line: forget this corner of Cibola National Forest!
I’d noticed a “Day Use” sign at the western entrance of the loop (there is none at the eastern entrance), but I figured its location at a parking area applied to that lot only. I’d gotten this loop from my installation of The Ultimate Public Campgrounds app on my iPhone. I had noted that the MVUM covering this section of Cibola does not specifically delineate any camping areas, which usually means that camping anywhere is fine. Usually. The complete absence of old fire rings and such was suspicious, however. Rather than get into a pissing match with the County Sheriff or the Feds about my camping rights on public land as a vested American Citizen who at one time used to earn enough to pay taxes, I decided to politely pack up and vacate the premises.
Coronado Campground in town is packed full these days, what with a hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque, so the rates are temporarily jacked up to suit. However, there’s a parking area for cars and RVs off by its lonesome, and space there is available for $14, which is little more than a shower at a truck stop these days. Speaking of which, I had not found a place to shower in town (the local community center being closed for the season), nor a source of potable water. This camp has both, plus dumpsters for trash. So as far as I’m concerned, getting tossed out of the loop was a blessing in disguise. I needed a shower. I do have the accoutrements in my rig to provide myself a 3-gallon hot shower in privacy, but being a lazy person, it’s not worth the time and trouble if a real shower is available nearby. That’s what suburban living does to you, I guess.
My stay in this city campground is giving me time to research and plan before I press on. So tomorrow, the scheme is to head for the Joe Skeens Campground in the El Malpais National Conservation Area, just 90-some miles and an hour and a half away. Hopefully, a space there is available. That’s not all that far from Grants, New Mexico, where I can theoretically resupply at the end of that stay. That campground puts me back up at 6,900′ elevation, which may be a bit cool for this time of year, but it should be livable. I have only a few possible campsites left in my repertoire – none of which I have ever seen so far – and my wintering RV park is still far too uncomfortably hot to cut and run, so we’ll see how circumstances play out in the next few weeks!